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Curfew hours in Kathmandu extended

The extension of curfew hours for a second time in a week hit the ailing tourism industry the hardest.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 20:39 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

With less than a fortnight to go for the first anniversary of King Gyanendra's power grab and the royalists claiming that the security situation had improved, the curfew hours in the capital city Kathmandu have been extended.

Curfew in the city was clamped on Monday from 11 pm to 4 am and then advanced to 10 pm. Now, it will be in force for seven hours from 9 pm to 4am.

The extension of curfew hours for a second time in a week hit the ailing tourism industry the hardest, making night clubs, restaurants and one of Kathmandu's prime attraction for Indian tourists, its chain of casinos, reel under the impact of dwindling clientele.

Yet, more curbs and unrest appeared on the cards with home minister Kamal Thapa on Wednesday warning that steps would be taken against the opposition parties if they continued their campaign for the boycott of municipal elections, called on February 8, and kept on acting as the "mouthpiece" of the Maoist guerrillas.

The government has already banned all demonstrations for an indefinite period of time, including a mass protest rally by the opposition scheduled for Friday on the grounds that it could be infiltrated by communist rebels.

The move was flayed by the guerrillas on Wednesday, who said they had pledged not to unleash violence during the political parties' programmes.

Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda issued a statement from his underground hideout on Wednesday, saying his banned Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) was committed to honouring the understanding it had forged with the alliance of seven major opposition parties and would not use force or incite violence at the rally called by the alliance in the capital on Friday.

"This shows the defeatist mentality of the feudal government," Prachanda said, condemning the curbs. "We want to make it clear that we will not use any force, violence or any move to provoke violence against the peaceful protests called by the seven parties."

The parties said they would defy the ban and would go ahead with their protest.

Over a dozen opposition leaders courted arrest on Monday taking out a protest rally in defiance.

The government curb was also questioned by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in Kathmandu that said banning peaceful protests went against international conventions to which, Nepal is a party.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 20:39 IST